Canadian doctors recently announced their interest in researching whether properties found in the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids and terpenes, could cure COVID-19 symptoms. Now, the U.S. government also wants scientists to study the relationship between marijuana and coronavirus, though not in the same way.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) issued a Notice of Special Interest last month that it would provide funding for research into how individuals with substance abuse disorders are affected by COVID-19. The letter specifically called for research into individuals who smoke tobacco, marijuana and/or vapes and whether those behaviours pose a serious threat against the coronavirus.
“As people across the U.S. and the rest of the world prepare for what could be a pandemic of the 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the research community should be alert to the possibility that it could affect some populations with substance use disorders or HIV particularly hard,” NIDA wrote. “Because it attacks the lungs, COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those with histories of smoking tobacco or marijuana or of vaping.”
The letter also mentions those using opioids or methamphetamines, as those drugs compromise immune systems and impacts respiratory health. Other research requests include how homelessness, incarcerations and other environmental factors, as well as if overcrowded hospitals could change how the treatment of pain patients and opioid use disorder.